After suffering a concussion and subsequently losing his starting job to Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith will probably be on the move next year. The good news is that plenty of NFL teams are dissatisfied with their own quarterbacks. After eight years of experience and an excellent past two seasons, Smith could be an attractive option. So here are 10 teams that could give the former No. 1 draft pick and Utah Utes star a new home.
Current quarterbacks: Kevin Kolb, John Skelton, Ryan Lindley
Perhaps the best fit for Smith is right in his current division, the NFC West. The Cardinals have struggled at the quarterback position since Kurt Warner retired. Kolb was a highly respected backup in Philadelphia who filled in ably after a prior injury to Michael Vick, but he has found life tougher in the desert. Skelton has been inconsistent, too. That has led to the Cards dropping seven straight games after winning four straight to open the year.
Arizona is so desperate that they started rookie Lindley against the Rams, and he threw four interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns. Alex Smith would surely be a better choice than any of these incumbents.
Current quarterbacks: Matt Cassel, Brady Quinn
The hapless 1-10 Chiefs have a lot of holes, so maybe a quarterback change wouldn't cure all their ills. But after an excellent 2010 season, Cassel has been so poor that Chiefs fans reportedly cheered when he suffered an in jury during a game. Cassel has thrown only six touchdown passes this year, compared to 12 interceptions. And Quinn has been no better in limited time (zero TDs, four interceptions). The Chiefs do have talented receivers like Dwayne Bowe and Steve Breaston, so Alex Smith might fare better there.
Current quarterbacks: Brandon Weeden, Colt McCoy
The poor Browns can't seem to catch a break at QB. They used high draft picks on both Weeden and McCoy, but neither has panned out yet. (Weeden is still just a rookie, but he's clearly no Andrew Luck.) Weeden's performance has been average at best so far, with 2,456 yards, 12 touchdowns and 13 interceptions in 11 games. Outside of running back Trent Richardson, the Browns don't have a ton of talent at the skill positions. But you'd have to think Alex Smith could do better than Weeden.
Current quarterbacks: Blaine Gabbert, Chad Henne
The Jaguars' offense has been absolutely anemic in 2012. Gabbert began the season as the starter, but after just 1,662 passing yards in 10 games (with only one win), he was benched in favor of Chad Henne. The former Dolphin and Michigan starter has been an improvement, with seven touchdowns and just two interceptions in five games.
Still, Henne probably isn't the long-term answer, and he hasn't led a team to the NFC Championship game, the way Alex Smith did last season. Smith would be an upgrade over Henne.
Current quarterbacks: Michael Vick, Nick Foles
When he's healthy and on his game, few players in the NFL are as versatile or electrifying as Vick. Unfortunately, he hasn't been either of those things consistently. He suffered a concussion earlier this season and still hasn't been cleared medically. Backup Nick Foles has fared little better. He has just 542 passing yards, one touchdown and three interceptions in three games.
Underachievers though they may be, the Eagles do have talent when healthy. With LeSean McCoy at running back and DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin at receiver, Alex Smith could step into a potentially potent offense.
Current quarterbacks: Mark Sanchez, Tim Tebow
Sanchez has never quite lived up to his early promise. The Jets don't throw that much as a team, but Sanchez has struggled with accuracy and ball security. Clearly, Jets leadership didn't feel completely safe with Sanchez at the helm, because they picked up Tim Tebow from Denver in the offseason. (Of course, Tebow has only seen a handful of snaps all season.)
Smith's experience and game-management skills would fit in well with the Jets' ball-control offense.
Current quarterbacks: Carson Palmer, Matt Leinart, Terrelle Pryor
The Raiders actually fared decently with Jason Campbell at the helm in 2010 and the first part of 2011, but an injury forced them to make a trade to acquire (and un-retire) Palmer. He hasn't been terrible in 2012 (3,181 yards, 18 touchdowns, 12 interceptions), but he hasn't led the Raiders to many wins, either. Palmer is just 7-13 as a Raiders starter.
Smith isn't as good as Palmer once was, but at this point in their careers, the former Ute would be an upgrade.
Current quarterbacks: Jake Locker, Matt Hasselbeck
The Titans have bounced back and forth between the young Locker and the veteran Hasselbeck several times over the past two seasons. Both have suffered numerous injuries, and both have had high points and dismal performances. That's been reflected in Tennessee's win-loss record, as well. The Titans are just 4-7 and rank 20th in the league in passing yardage this season.
While he wouldn't change those numbers immediately, Smith would be more consistent than the erratic Locker and is more talented than the aging Hasselbeck.
Current quarterbacks: Ryan Fitzpatrick, Tarvaris Jackson
The Bills committed to Fitzpatrick in a big way in October of 2011, when they gave the Harvard graduate a six-year, $59 million contract. At the time, it seemed like a good idea; Fitzpatrick had had a promising 2010 and an even better 2011, topping 3,000 yards and 23 touchdowns each year. And while his numbers this season aren't bad, the Bills are just 25th in the league in passing with a 4-7 record.
The Bills might not make a play for Smith because they're already so invested in Fitzpatrick. But Smith could be a better choice.
Current quarterbacks: Ryan Tannehill, Matt Moore
The Dolphins selected Tannehill with the eighth pick of the 2012 draft. He won the starting job in camp and has led Miami to a 5-6 record. His personal stats, however, are less impressive: 2,373 yards, seven touchdowns and 12 interceptions.
To be fair, the 'Fins don't have a ton of talent at wide receiver, preferring to run the ball with Reggie Bush and Daniel Thomas. And having spent such a high draft pick on Tannehill, they'd probably need to see more of him before going after Alex Smith. But the former Ute is the better player right now.